DM at FSU Receives National Dance Marathon Award Honoring Ryan White's Legacy

Dance Marathon at Florida State University was recently awarded the distinguished Ryan White Award for Overcoming Adversity at the Miracle Network Dance Marathon Leadership Conference in July. This award will be presented to the Miracle Network Dance Marathon organization whose experience in overcoming a significant obstacle best exemplifies Ryan White’s spirit and perseverance in the face of adversity.

DM at FSU receives the Ryan White Award for Overcoming Adversity at DMLC 2018 from Riley Hospital for Children patient, Marlee, and her sister.

Ryan White, who was diagnosed with AIDS following a blood transfusion at age 13, became a face for public education about the disease. After he passed away the summer before he was to attend Indiana University, his friends founded Indiana University Dance Marathon in his honor in 1991, helping to spark the Miracle Network Dance Marathon movement that now involves over 400 colleges, universities, and K-12 schools throughout North America.

In order to overcome adversity, a change must be made. That change cannot be made without you. It’s #Up2Us, as individuals, as an organization, and as a community to give hope for tomorrow. $2 Million. For The Kids. Join us at dmfsu.org

Posted by Dance Marathon at FSU on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

After raising $1,830,167.28 in 2017, DM at FSU set their sights on raising $2,000,000 in 2018. In the midst of building their new team, they encountered their first hurdle of the year, Hurricane Irma. Florida State University closed for over a week to help the students focus on their families and the homes in the path of the hurricane. Upon returning to campus, DM at FSU was understandably tracking behind in their fundraising by a significant amount.

After a lengthy meeting, they decided to send out a targeted email to past donors who were outside of the affected areas. The message was centered around their local miracle kids who spent the hurricane in the hospital and the impact that donations had on providing the best treatment throughout the storm. This e-mail marketing effort helped bring DM at FSU’s tracking back into the positive heading into their push day, Florida Statement.

They had initially planned to have Florida Statement on November 8th with the goal of raising $262,000 in 26.2 hours. Everything was in place when they encountered their second major hurdle of the year. On November 6th, two days before Florida Statement, Florida State University’s Greek Life was suspended following the tragic death of a student.

Needless to say, they had to respect the tragedy on campus and postpone their fundraising push day. The executive team and advisors sat down to reimagine their entire organization, brand, and culture in hopes that they could engage the entire campus and still reach their monetary goal of 2 million. They also began planning Florida Statement again, a process that took over 2 months to prepare initially. With the new date being only a week later, DM at FSU had a considerable challenge ahead but believed they were up for it. After 26.2 long hours and adjusting plans to meet the new date throughout the day, they managed to ignite a spark on their campus and raise $302,535.34.

DM at FSU knew that over $900,000 of their 2017 total came from students involved in fraternity and sorority organizations, so it was no secret they would need their participation. Knowing that students were grieving the loss of a friend and navigating a change on campus, DM at FSU needed to reframe their organization and engage themselves in different ways. They started to plan more on-campus events that would help engage students who were now looking for a home on campus and encouraged participants to have dance marathon be the cause that could unify their community and show campus the positive impact that FSU students can make.

DM at FSU’s third major hurdle happened 5 days before their marathon. They were notified that the lightings in their venue had been malfunctioning and were out of commission. With no other place in town to accommodate their needs, they became innovative. They adjusted the layout of the event and were able to turn some of their sponsors to help provide exterior lighting.

Through the adversity they faced, DM at FSU was able to come up with positive, creative solutions and managed to surpass their goal, raising $2,152,382.19 #ForTheKids at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and FSU College of Medicine’s Pediatric Outreach Programs. The changes made not only addressed the challenges they faced in the moment, but also have set up their organization for long-term success, as they engaged a record number 1,800 dancers at their event, shattered their fundraising goal, and created a culture of community on their campus.


Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 400 colleges, universities and K-12 schools across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since its inception in 1991, Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $250 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

Learn more about Miracle Network Dance Marathon:

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